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eDNA, uncommon landscapes, cryptic species

Last December we had an extrarodinary science briefing that gave us an overview of the Land Science and Biodiversity programmes underway at ORC.

Among the big issues we face in restoring our environment is that there is no clear picture of the state of the environment. The approach we are taking with investment in our science team is a major step in addressing that and will guide our approach for many years. The information collated is already providing an overview and will be so useful to many sectors of the community.

ORC roles and responsibilities for biodiversity.

- to manage and maintain biodiversity (RMA1991 Section 30 (1)(ga))

While our own Biodiversity Action Plan has a vision and set of outcomes that look to maintaining and enhancing indigenous species and ecosystems (among other things), it acknowledges that 'roles and responsibilities for biodiversity management are overlapping, complex and poorly defined by national legislation' (pg 7, quoting Willis, G. (2014). So things are tricky. However, ORC well understands the need for ground up, community level biodiversity work supported by excellent scientific data. Our job is to make sure we have the data, and to support community work. In response, we have developed a Land Science programme that covers a great range of information gaps, from landuse mapping, inventories of biodiversity including wetlands, eDNA sampling to tell us what is where and a fish passage programme to find out where we need to provide for, or prevent fish passage.


A powerfull new tool for surveying and monitoring biodiversity. Currently using this to understand distributions of threatened fishes - lowland longjaw glaxias (Kakanui River) and alpine galaxias (Manuherekia river)

Cryptic species

Difficult to detect species (cryptic) are being identified and their distribution, habitats and relevant abundance mapped . Also management practices tested for effectiveness and standardised.

Uncommon Landscapes

These include inland salt lakes, specific wetlands and other unique landscape features. Work here includes mapping wetlands and other landscapes and assessing their biodiversity indicators.

More information about these works will be posted on our website, but in the meantime, if you're after more detail (like, for example, mapping of the 1000 individual wetlands that make up the Taieri), let me know and I'll get it to you.

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